The attacks – claimed by hacktivists associated with the Anonymous group – were seen as a response to the closure of megaupload.com over allegations of “widespread copyright infringement”.
The denial of service attacks targeted the Department of Justice site, knocking it offline temporarily, as well as disrupting the FBI’s site and those of the Recording Industry Association of America, Universal Music and the Motion Picture Association of America.
"The Department of Justice web server hosting justice.gov is currently experiencing a significant increase in activity, resulting in a degradation in service,” a spokesperson for the department told ABC News.
“The department is working to ensure the website is available while we investigate the origins of this activity, which is being treated as a malicious act until we can fully identify the root cause of the disruption."
The hacktivist group Anonymous reported the success of the attacks via its Twitter feed. "The government takes down Megaupload? 15 minutes later #Anonymous takes down Government and record label sites," the group said.
The attacks came shortly after the closure of megaupload.com, which the FBI said had been closed following the arrest of seven people who allegedly made $175 million via the site.
The FBI said seven individuals and two corporations had been charged in the US with “running an international organised criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works through Megaupload.com”.
The arrests, which the FBI said involved working with law enforcement colleagues from New Zealand, Germany and Hong Kong, were described as "one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States" although the agency gave no technical details on how the site had been taken offline.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk